Ivan W. Parkins

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About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

Front Page

In This Issue: 

   -Panic in America? See what I wrote in 1971

        and it still goes on today

    -Dividing America, Another example of                         media misrepresentation from 1971

    -Democrats and Racial Disunity

    -New Americans and Multiculturalism

PANIC IN AMERICA

 

The following article is a reprint, The Daily Times-News, 3/26/71.  It illustrates the long

history of media involvement in determining perceptions of  the American

public through false and misleading reporting. 

By Ivan W. Parkins

    Waves of public hysteria, fanned by leading journalists and academics, may explain the greater part of America’s troubles over the past decade.  Objections to such an explanation, especially among journalists and academics, are (predictably) vehement.  Indeed, hysteria as an explanation of our troubles should be treated with skepticism; it implies gross inadequacies of intellectual perception and moral responsibility in those groups and institutions charged with informing and enlightening our society, and it suggests that the rest of society may not be in need of drastic reforms.

    Now, thanks to the article of Edward Jay Epstein, a Harvard instructor, in NEW YORKER, February 13, 1971, we have remarkable illustration of panic in America.  The Epstein article deals with the killings of Black Panthers by the police in 1969, and with how a story about such killings was treated in the press.  Beyond police-Panther relations, the Epstein article demonstrates that those who arouse and shape American opinion sometimes accept allegations of fact without investigation, repeat them without qualification, and use them without restraint to charge brutal and illegal behavior against public officials.

    A brief resume of the Epstein article follows: In an early morning raid December 969, police killed Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Black Panther Party of Illinois, and another Party member.  Charles R. Gary, counsel for the Panthers, charged that those made 27 and 28 police murders of Panthers and that they were part of a national conspiracy to wipe out the Panthers. 

THE NEW YORK TIMES reported the Gary charges without qualification or notice of the source, and relayed the story to more than three hundred other papers which subscribe to its news service.  THE WASHINGTON POST acted similarly.  Other media took up the charge of police “genocide” aimed at the Panthers.  The few doubts and qualifications that were published were little noticed as a Committee to Defend the Panthers was formed and notable persons were quoted repeating the charge.  Guerrilla warfare was predicted in our cities.  (Especially on campuses and in “liberal” groups, a wave of protest mounted).  Actually, Epstein found, not even Panther spokesman Garry, who had initiated the charge, was prepared to support it.  Ten instances of police killing Panthers were confirmed, but six of those killings were by policemen who had themselves been seriously wounded and who did not know that the men they were shooting at were Panthers.  Several occurred during police responses to reports of other crimes.  Furthermore, such killings declined following the Chicago raid.  In short, Epstein found no evidence to support the charge of a police conspiracy to murder Panthers.

     Strictly speaking, the Epstein article tells us little of anything beyond police-Panther conflict in 1969 and the treatment which was given to it in the press.  I suggest that the article illustrates much more.  Like all illustration, it is subject to the objection that what happened in that instance was not typical of what usually happens.  It is significant, however, that the killings of Panthers by police were relatively objective matters, regarding which records and witnesses were available, and that they occurred entirely within American society.  If such events were falsely reported and grossly misrepresented for more than a year, how much possibility is there of press and academic error in regard to matters as complex and subjective as the purposes and conduct of War in S.E. Asia or the urgency of political and social reform in the United States?

    Personally, I feel deeply indebted to Mr. Epstein.  For a number of years I have contended—despite periodic attacks of self-doubt—that the crisis in America consists mostly of panic.  I have put the blame for public hysteria chiefly upon the press and my own colleagues, villains uncomfortably numerous, prestigious, and close to where I live.  Since I have made little specific comment upon police-Panther relations or upon how the press reported them, Mr. Epstein has not proved me to be correct.  His article does illustrate, however, that those who are suppose to provide information and enlightenment to America are capable of intellectual and moral judgments as shallow as any with which I have charged them.

DIVIDING AMERICA

By Ivan W. Parkins

(The following article was originally published in the Daily Times-News, 10/06/1971). You will notice some language usages at the time which were acceptable, but currently are not used due to cultural sensitivities.  This article appeared also, in issue 14, Vol. 1 of APC.

             The Kerner Commission on civil disorders in its final report stated that, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white – separate and unequal.”  That evaluation has been quoted again and again.  Both the Johnson and the Nixon Administrations have been castigated for a lack of enthusiasm in accepting and implementing the report.

             The implication of the report and the charge bluntly levied by a militant minority of Americans, is that racial bigotry prevailing in the American public and intransigence existing in American institutions makes reductions of our racial tensions unlikely.  I am reminded that when I moved to Michigan, just after the Detroit riots of 1967, the more specific prediction , then popular in the press, was that more and bigger riots would soon follow.  I required one of my classes to write a brief paper discussing the capacity of the American political system to cope with the problem over the next five years.  To my chagrin, I discovered that very few of my own suggestions had been accepted by my students.  Almost unanimously, they echoed predictions of a holocaust borrowed from the news media.

             Arguing against “liberals” that a few riots did not foreshadow a race war was a new role for me.  I had moved from the South, where my arguments were chiefly with segregationists, many of whom cited sporadic violence and threats of violence as a reason why the civil rights movements should be halted.  Neither group seemed to be aware that race relations during much of American history, especially in the late nineteenth century, were more violent than during the recent civil rights movement.  Apparently, few people considered race relations in the perspective of violence which accompanied other great changes, such as the rise of labor unions.

             The violence of the civil rights movement thus far has been moderate, when taken in the perspective of history and considering the magnitude of the change.  Furthermore, there is growing  evidence of progress.  Economic gains, especially for the younger and more educated Negroes, are substantial.  Negro voting, and successes in winning political offices, have multiplied.  It is largely in the more subtle area of white-black attitudes toward one another that some people still claim to find bases for pessimism.

             Several major opinions polls in recent years have produced results suggesting that white attitudes are less bigoted and intransigent, and black expectations more moderate, than some journalists and intellectuals would have us believe.  Recently, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, probably the foremost center in attitudinal survey in the world has published confirmation that white and black attitudes are converging. 

             The quiet progress of school busing for integration purposes in most of the South is a visible refutation of the pessimistic evaluations of our people and our institutions.  The failure of most pessimists to support their arguments with solid evidence does not mean that there is no racial problem in America.  Samuel Lubell’s Hidden Crisis in American Politics provides both reasons for concern and some grounds for hope .  Lubell has been interviewing representative Americans in their homes while too many other journalists and academics were populating the country with Archie Bunkers, fictitious characters whose principal virtue is making intellectuals feel smugly superior.  Lubell found, not attitudinal bigotry, but specific problems of competition for housing and job opportunities, and fears for personal safety to be the roots of tension.  He attributed much of this to population mobility (southern farms to northern cities, cities to suburbs).  Such material problems pose difficult problems to American society; they do not imply degeneracy in the American character.

             Senator Fred Harris, himself a member of the Kerner Commission, referred in LOOK magazine (3/18/1969) to racism as “the number one mental health problem in America.”  Considering the failure of attitudinal surveys to support such evaluations, it is fair to inquire whether views such as those of Harris may not be both and impediment to racial understanding and an additional major cause of division in America.

New Americans and

Multiculturalism

This is a reprint from Issue 15, Vol. 1.

By Ivan W. Parkins

    

     One of the greatest of liberal, mainly Democrat, changes to America in recent decades has been multiculturalism.  Regarding this and related matters, I recommend Michael Barone’s book, THE NEW AMERICANS: HOW THE MELTING POT CAN WORK AGAIN.

     Barone compares Irish immigrants during the mid-nineteenth century with the great migration of Black Americans north from the Old South, especially that since 1940.  He also compares Italian and later Latino immigrants, and Jews with recent Asians.  All are interesting, but the Irish/Black comparison is especially sharp in the political lessons that it offers.

     Barone concludes that “race, as liberals have wisely insisted for years, is an arbitrary category.”  But, “the descendents of past immigrants have now become deeply interwoven into the fabric of American life.”  It can happen again.  “There is less overt bigotry and discrimination,” now.  “The greatest obstacle…is the American elite”; it, since the 1960s, does not promote assimilation.

     He points out that in one major respect the Irish fared much better than recent Blacks.  Both came from crude and repressive environments, poorly educated, inclined to violence and uncivil.  Both also relied heavily on their own churches.  The Irish soon learned the advantages of discipline and civility in Catholic schools; the Blacks encountered public schools that would change to accommodate their shortcomings.

     Partisan ship is not emphasized by Barone; with the 2008 election pending, it will be by me.  Multiculturalism, and its implied divisions of America, is mainly an innovation of liberal Democrats, and mainly since the Vietnam era.  It has been imposed, or “sold,” as an example of acceptance of other cultures as equal to, and as appropriate as, our own.  Actually, from my own experiences, it seems to be more a rejection of traditional America and of the chief types of leadership that America has produced.

     Do liberal Democrats really want to improve upon the America that we have known, or do they plan instead to replace that with a quasi-Marxist nirvana, their own ”creation”?

Democrats and Racial Disunity

By Ivan W. Parkins

This is a reprint from May of 2008

The “1960’s” were a turbulent time for American political parties.  Increased black participation was changing both the northern cities to which blacks were migrating and the old solid Democratic South.  Meanwhile, the Supreme Court held that America’s often very unequal legislative districting was unconstitutional.  How could Democrats survive the changes?

             More educated and “sophisticated” Democrats in the larger cities of the Northeast and Midwest would have additional congressional seats to work with.  The Old South would lose most of its near monopoly of congressional committee chairmanships.  Rural Republicans of the Midwest would lose numerous congressional seats, but many of them could be regained in the new suburbs that were emerging.

             A major question was how would be increasing black vote go?  Black voters had traditionally leaned Republican, until Franklin Roosevelt won many of them over.  More of the black vote, now would be strategically located in large cities and our most populous states.  Given the practice of allocating all of the electoral votes in most states to the presidential candidate who had plurality in that state, a bloc-vote by blacks in major cities became a major key to Democrat success.  Meanwhile, however, most of the new civil rights legislation had been enacted with largely, Republican support.

             Democrats needed to assure that a new and more militant leadership dominated black communities.  In that, the media, academic and artistic as well as journalistic, would be a great help.  The new racial and civil rights picture that emerged in the 1960’s might have led to greater national unity than ever before.  But that might also have undermined a Democrat Party that had long depended upon the Solid South for its margins of victory.  Rather than face such a consequence, the more educated and “liberal” Democrats turned to memorializing past racial injustices and cultivating more militant black leaders.  Peace and racial unity would have to await another day. I.W. Parkins, 5/08

So, What Are We to Conclude?

Race is an old playbook item by the liberal elite and it is being used again.  Only the advent of  competitive media reporting has limited it’s effect on the American public today.

The imperative of  Democrat  liberals has become, “establish lasting dominance now, or else lose their control” .  Greater variety in both the avenues and the political leanings of communication media have eroded the dominance of the "old mainstream". The continued endurance of school vouchers and the public's rejection of reverse racism are also threats, not to America, but to the power of the liberal elite.  The following articles are an illustration of this process.